Dirco confirms Grace Mugabe has been granted diplomatic immunity

20 August 2017 - 16:09 By Timeslive
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Image: REUTERS

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has confirmed that Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe has been granted diplomatic immunity.

In a statement‚ it claimed that Dirco Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had “agonised’ over the matter and that it had not been an easy decision to make‚ but that diplomatic immunity was warranted after careful consideration of all the relevant factors.

Grace had invoked diplomatic immunity after assault charges were laid against her after she allegedly assaulted a woman‚ Gabriella Engels‚ and hotel staff in Sandton‚ Johannesburg‚ last week.

 She flew back to Zimbabwe with her husband‚ President Robert Mugabe‚ in the early hours of Sunday‚ according to reports from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Among relevant factors Dirco said it had considered in granting Grace diplomatic immunity were the fact that the matter coincided with South Africa’s hosting of the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government that took place in Sandton at the weekend.

It also took into account legal considerations‚ including “derivative immunity of spouses of Heads of State”.

Other considerations were “the imperative to maintain good inter-government relations within the SADC region‚ and in particular between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe”‚ it said.

 

The department said it had also considered the need to uphold the rule of law‚ ensure fair administration of justice and uphold the rights of the complainant.

It said the Minister had considered the request from the Zimbabwean Embassy on August 16 for diplomatic immunity to be granted for Grace in accordance with the discretion granted to her by section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act.

According to this section‚ it said‚ “The Minister may in any particular case if it is not expedient to enter into an agreement as contemplated in subsection (1) and if the conferment of immunities and privileges is in the interest of the Republic‚ confer such immunities and privileges in a person or organisation as may be specified by notice in the Gazette”.

It added: “The Minister has made the determination that the conferring of diplomatic immunity is warranted in this particular instance.

‘The Department wishes to convey the message that the Minister has agonised over this matter and the decision was not an easy one to make.”

READ THE FULL STATEMENT

Decision on Diplomatic Immunity relating to an alleged assault case in Sandton

On Wednesday 16 August 2017, the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe invoked immunities of Dr Grace Mugabe in relation to the alleged case of assault widely reported in the media. 

The Minister considered the communication from the Embassy in accordance with the discretion granted to her by section 7(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act.

According to Section 7 (2) of the Act: “The Minister may in any particular case if it is not expedient to enter into an agreement as contemplated in subsection (1) and if the conferment of immunities and privileges is in the interest of the Republic, confer such immunities and privileges on a person or organisation as may be specified by notice in the Gazette”.          

After careful consideration of all the relevant factors, including the following:

  • the need to uphold the rule of law, ensure fair administration of justice and uphold the rights of the complainant;
  • the imperative to maintain good inter-governmental relations within the SADC region, and in particular between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe;
  • the fact that the matter coincides with South Africa’s hosting of the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government;
  • legal considerations, including derivative immunity of spouses of Heads of State, 

The Minister has made the determination that the conferring of diplomatic immunity is warranted in this particular instance.

The Department wishes to convey the message that the Minister has agonised over this matter and the decision was not an easy one to make.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building

460 Soutpansberg Road

Rietondale

Pretoria

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